February 28, 2024

Modeling Suitable Habitats of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in a Highly Urbanized Bay


Zhilan Lin, Minhao Gao, Xingguang Yu, Qian Zhu, Zhigang Yu, and Xianyan Wang


Document: Article
: Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) live in coastal waters that have experienced considerable anthropogenic disturbances. Specifically, along the coasts of highly urbanized regions, available habitats have decreased in both space and scale. This study used Maxent software to simulate the distribution of suitable habitats for S. chinensis during the dry and wet seasons in Xiamen Bay. We also aimed to identify key environmental factors influencing habitat distribution, with the goal of using our results to analyze conservation gaps and propose adjustments. We found that during the dry season, S. chinensis were mainly distributed in the Western Harbor, Jiulong River Estuary, and the mouth of Tongan Bay. During the wet season, they were distributed in the south of Western Harbor, Jiulong River Estuary, and around the Wuyu and Dadeng-Xiaodeng Islands. Nekton density, chlorophyll-a concentration, sea surface temperature, slope, and salinity are the primary factors affecting S. chinensis distribution in Xiamen Bay. To better protect the species, the existing Tongan Bay reserve should be expanded during dry seasons, and suitable habitats in the Jiulong River Estuary should be turned into a seasonal protected region. Similarly, during wet seasons, the original Western Harbor portion of the reserve should increase to include the Jiulong River Estuary, northwest of the Wuyu Islands and south of the Dadeng-Xiaodeng Islands. In addition to this dynamic seasonal management of reserve size, we also recommend developing multiple-use protected areas and establishing a joint protection mechanism between local governments. In conclusion, our model offers important guidance on improving conservation measures of S. chinensis in Xiamen Bay.

Key Words: Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Sousa chinensis, suitable habitat, Maxent, habitat protection, marine conservation

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.49.2.2023.148

Page Numbers: 148-159


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